The Coarsening of Society

I enjoy using my WordPress app on my iPhone through the day. It tells me what’s going on with this website. Some days it’s pretty quiet, other days interesting. A few days ago, Lex’s tale of Piddle Packs was read 100s of times around the world. It was fun to watch. At my first check, 200 people had read it. By the end of the day, 400 had read it. This went on for the next few days, in smaller numbers each succeeding day. Someone had probably referenced it on a blog and people read it – with many passing the link on to who-knows-where to others via email. In my mind, I imagined readers from around the world laughing or at least smiling. I’d like to think that Lex was smiling, too.

He’s had some that have over a few days built into the 1000s, but who’s counting? Some funny, some thought provoking.

He continues to touch people around the world, even 9 years later.

But what is gratifying to me is that Lex has had regular, daily visitors. Of his over 4,000 posts here, readers find things of his that interest them every day.

Including some of which I had forgotten.

Including this one today.

He was writing about the invitation that the University of Connecticut had extended to Ann Coulter in 2005 to speak.  Coulter arrived and eventually had to leave the stage prematurely because of disruption in the audience.

This kind of behavior at “institutions of higher learning” is nothing new.

In 1983, at UC Berkeley, Jeane Kirkpatrick, a Democrat turned conservative who served as President Reagan’s UN Ambassador, was shouted down. But against the heckling and boos, she insisted on finishing her speech even if the audience couldn’t hear her.  

And rather than be horrified and embarrassed at the shabby treatment given to an invited guest, much of the Berkeley faculty defended the behavior of the “protestors”.

Yet the mother of all campus shout-downs was the drowning out of a talk by Jeane Kirkpatrick at the University of California at Berkeley in February of 1983.  At the time, the practice of shouting down speakers was uncommon.  So it shocked me when, as a Berkeley grad student, I heard faculty members openly justifying that action with the claim that “oppressors have no free speech rights.”  The Kirkpatrick incident was a key moment in my long, slow transformation from McGovern liberal to conservative.

One would think as a matter of honor that anyone accepting an invitation would be treated with respect at a facility. Anyone trying to disrupt the event should be disciplined, if not expelled.

Certainly there have to be among the audience those whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to the speaker but wish to be challenged in their beliefs.

That is the sign of a superior intellect.

But it’s mean, contemptible and disrespectful not just to Ms. Coulter, an invited guest, but also to those who would at least listen to what she had to say to arrogate to oneself a right to protest which supercedes their right to dialogue.

Weak minds and weak arguments do not become stronger with greater volume.

Lex had it right.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics, Politics and Culture

One response to “The Coarsening of Society

  1. Yes. The common assertion that the coarsening of American political discourse happened because of Trump is a lie. Thuggish behavior, largely by the Left, has been on the increase for a couple of decades before Trump ever hit the national political stage. See for example The United States of Weimar?

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/52961.html

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